First things first, my track record for Red Sox pre-season prognostication is dismal. For every one time I’m spot on (I once got taken to task by a fellow blogger who thought I grossly undervalued Abe Alvarez), I am light years off on six other things (“David Wells, 2005 World Series MVP,” “Brad Penny, Hero in the Making,” etc.). So take it all with a grain of salt and know that only one person truly knows how the 2015 baseball season will unfold. That’s right: Mark Hamill.
Justin Masterson will be the team’s ace. Sure, it’s nice to make up T-shirts and talk loudly in restaurants about how you feel like you’ve got five eager aces instead of just one. But if we’re serious about contending, at least one starter’s gonna have to rise up like the phoenix and get shit done. Clay Buchholz could go one way or the other. Rick Porcello and Wade Miley may take some time to find their footing on this team. Joe Kelly, whom I desperately want to see succeed, didn’t exactly light things up this spring, and while he starts the season on the DL, his replacement, Steven Wright, is a knuckleballer, likely to induce more heart-attacks then ground-outs. I’m putting my money on Justin Masterson rising to the challenge. He’s been here before, seems pretty comfortable in his own skin, and has a sense of humor that will help keep him above the fray if the wheels fall off this wagon early on. Yes, I know picking a guy with a lifetime losing record (60-72) seems unwise. But work with me.
Mookie Betts will be a All-Star in 2015. I’m not just drinking the Kool Aid, motherfuckers. I’m mainlining it.
Hanley Ramirez will be a bust. Mind you, I don’t want this to happen, it’s just that I’ve gotten a real Carl Crawford vibe from this signing ever since it was speculated. I was excited about Ramirez back in 2005. But 10 years later, with a reputation for being something of a prick, not so much. Okay, so here he’ll have Ortiz to keep him honest. Still, four years at $88 million? Shit is bananas. Law of averages says that between Sandoval and Ramirez, one of these signings has got to be a trainwreck. My money’s on Ramirez. And I think by the end of the season, we will have seen more of Allen Craig in left than Han Ram.
Xander Bogaerts will emerge as the player we hoped he’d be. In the haze of his struggles last year it was easy to lose sight of just smoothly X slid into our hearts and minds during the 2013 postseason. Cast among the superstars and journeyman players on the sport’s biggest stage, he looked at times like a seasoned vet. Calm, cool, collected and making shit happen. And, on top of it, a sweetheart of a guy by all accounts. Last year, the Sox did him zero favors with the Stephen Drew Shuffle. This year, with the spotlight on Mookie, X will have a chance to prove himself as a solid fielder, dangerous bat and future star. I’m betting he does.
Mike Napoli will hit 40 home runs, kill an ox with his bare hands, release a line of meat curing spices, embrace overalls. This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
David Ortiz’s 500th home run will win the game that seals the AL East. If we’re gonna dream, we gotta go big. Can you think of a better way the Large Father can put an exclamation point on his admission to the 500 club?